Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Unmanned XI. [conclusion]

This is coolbert:

To recapitulate and conclude regarding the subject of unmanned aerial vehicles [UAV].

UAV is obviously the wave of the future. Is now and will be for some time to come. This has been mandated by the Department of Defense [DoD].

"the United States Department of Defense (DoD), has mandated that one-third of all military land vehicles be autonomous (unmanned) by 2015, and two-thirds by 2025."

When we speak of UAV, we of course only speak of aerial vehicles.

But the tendency and direction will be to design and build for land and maritime operations as well as aerial.

Vehicles, unmanned, autonomous to some degree or totally so, that will be used on the land battlefield, and for naval warfare too, above and below the waves. This is is being done right now, some designs already in operation.

[My comments in bold.]

Regarding UAV [aerial vehicles]:

Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV)

"UAVs are any aircraft that operate without an on-board pilot and typically fly with some level of autonomy. Historically, UAVs have their roots in military applications and current applications are still mostly military. Civil activities are limited but have great potential"

"UAV materials and construction are as varied as the aerodynamic designs."

"Current UAVs range in size from full scale aircraft down to systems that fit in the palm of your hand."

"The mini/micro air vehicle (MAV) class is an area of intense growth and interest. Loosely, 'mini' refers to wing spans from approximately 10 feet down to 6 inches, while 'micro' refers to wingspans below 6 inches."

"Tactical UAVs include Pioneer and Shadow, with wingspans of approximately 15 feet."

"Predator is a light-weight, high endurance system having a wingspan of just under 50 ft, and carrying a payload of 450 pounds for up to 40 hours"

"Global Hawk has a wing span of over 130 ft, and is capable of carrying a 3000-pound payload."

"The next phase for this class of UAV is a weaponized system that can perform surveillance, suppression of enemy air defenses, and precision strike missions, all without a human in the loop."

These will be the UCAV. Coming on line now.

"The future of the military market appears solid."

Civilian applications as well can be expected to be found and mature.

"Potential commercial applications are widely varying, including border patrol, police surveillance, search and rescue, forest fire and wildlife monitoring, detection of fish schools, large facility security, mail and package delivery, and even recreation."

"Current technology even allows for an auto piloted toy airplane with a wingspan of 12 inches and an on-board video camera to enter the market below the $100 price point."

"The primary hold-up for this market are as-of-yet unresolved issues of operating unmanned vehicles in the commercial airspace."

"The 'brains' of these UAVs is the autopilot, which is becoming ever-more sophisticated and capable, and vary as widely as the applications for computers themselves (especially artificial intelligence applications)."

This is where problems may still be found. Artificial Intelligence [AI] has not advanced in the manner with which some have prophesied it would. We are not even close to the HAL 2000 computer stage of development. Human thought process is not well understood to allow machine emulation of a thinking breathing pilot at the controls. At least not yet.

"Both air and land unmanned vehicles are moving forward in a dynamic, some might say frantic, pace. The military applications are currently spurring this amazing growth. Eventually, civilian applications will become, perhaps, even larger in volume and complexity."

Dynamic - - frantic - - even FRENZIED!!


The future is now and will be so for some time to come.




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